Department of Educational Administration


Date of this Version



McVay, C. J. (2015). Everything changed: Experiences of international students affected by a home country crisis. (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Educational Administration, Under the Supervision of Professor Stephanie L. Bondi. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2015

Copyright (c) 2015 Caitlin J. McVay


The population of international students studying in the United States continues to break record enrollments each year, growing to 886,052 students in 2014 according to Institute of International Education (IIE) data (IIE, 2014b). As these numbers increase, so too do the numbers of students affected by crises in their home countries. These students face a number of adjustment issues unique to their situations, and may require additional support from administrators and others at their institutions. This qualitative, phenomenological study explores the experiences of five international students who studied at two public universities in the western United States while large-scale crises occurred in their home countries. A series of three semi-structured interviews were conducted with each participant via video chat software over a three month period. The participants were from Ukraine, the Philippines, Iraq, Libya, and Brazil, and were each residing in the western United States while their respective crises occurred. The findings indicated that international students experience a significant amount of stress and that various factors influence their ability to cope and their perceptions of social support during home country crises. Recommendations for higher education administrators wishing to support these students and areas in need of future research were also provided.

Advisor: Stephanie L. Bondi